International volunteer rant

FBClark

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Intro first;
I'm recently retired, just one year ago. I use LMDE as my current full time desktop. I tend to change distros about about every 5 to 7 years. My privacy and security are, of course, to me, prime.
I recently volunteered with an international aid agency. It's training time for me of course. They use MS Teams and SkillSoft. I use browser settings plus addons to block, deny, erase and prevent third party cookies, tracking, and to erase primary cookies when I exit a domain. I also use the hosts file to block ads and weird domains. That is where the problem is. With several domains hogtied with my settings, MS Teams won't allow me to view any desktop shares, presentations or even participant videos. I can hear all audio just fine, I can't see diddly crap. I went to the Teams troubleshooting page and found that I'm expected to whitelist about half a dozen domains that are loaded with third party cookies, trackers and a couple of them even have keystroke and mouse action eavesdropping. The sites claim it's for building better customer rapport(!) They post other training material on SkillSoft and that's another one I have hogtied. SkillSoft won't let me access the material until I whitelist them. I'd really like to participate, but I refuse to allow such intrusions to my privacy and security.
One of the tools I use to check out domains is https://themarkup.org/blacklight They show all sorts of interesting stuff about web sites and what they're doing in the background.
Just to get Teams on browser to run with full access, I'd have to whitelist these domains;
microsoft.com 13 ad trackers, 34 third party cookies & could be monitoring keystrokes. Keylogging is a security risk I will not allow on my computer.
microsoftonline.com So heavily layered or so full of redirects that Blacklight's results can't be returned. I don't trust it for obvious reasons.
teams.skype.com 1 ad tracker & 4 third party cookies
teams.microsoft.com 7 third party cookies through login redirect
sfbassets.com This site cannot be reached by Blacklight or by browser. Why? According to the Whois registry this site does exist, although it can't be accessed. I don't trust it, again, for obvious reasons. What are they hiding that could be worse than ad trackers, cookies and keylogging?? (https://wa-com.com/sfbassets.com)
skypeforbusiness.com 16 ad trackers, 48 third party cookies, could be monitoring keystrokes and communicates with Facebook, LinkedIn and several other sites.
That's a total of at least 30 ad trackers, 96 third party cookies and at least 2 keyloggers plus whatever else they've kept hidden on two inaccessible domains. And then there's SkillSoft ...
I'm really reevaluating my offer to volunteer. Am I going overboard with this?
 


wizardfromoz

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WOW

... and welcome to linux.org

I'm really reevaluating my offer to volunteer.
I don't blame you!

And

Am I going overboard with this?
I don't think so.

Are there other agencies of the same nature, that might be less intrusive?

Chris Turner
wizardfromoz

BTW Tom, I would have left your Post in, myself.
 

FBClark

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I don't have international or national secrets on my system, but I do my personal business and financial business from my computer, and since this Covid Culture has taken control, my personal and financial business activities online have expanded. I order more 'stuff' from Amazon and Wally-World online. Even with the restrictions I have, neither one withholds a single feature, even with their own pervasive and, if allowed, invasive tactics blocked. I'm required to access some Google apps on occasion, and again, even with my restricting the great and marvelous Google, no features are blocked.
I don't see where I have to kneel to Microsoft or anyone else for one single thing. Their tactics are, and have always been, blackmail: "Allow our intrusions or we will shackle you, slave". It's built into their OS and into their domains.
I'll occasionally follow a link to a mainstream media site usually, or some other site and have one of those "Disable your ad blocker if you want to continue" overlays. I respect that, close the tab down and move on.
Thanks wiz, I'll do some shopping around to see if I can find some organization that hasn't been assimilated by the MS.
 

sarahk99

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Intro first;
I'm recently retired, just one year ago. I use LMDE as my current full time desktop. I tend to change distros about about every 5 to 7 years. My privacy and security are, of course, to me, prime.
I recently volunteered with an international aid agency. It's training time for me of course. They use MS Teams and SkillSoft. I use browser settings plus addons to block, deny, erase and prevent third party cookies, tracking, and to erase primary cookies when I exit a domain. I also use the hosts file to block ads and weird domains. That is where the problem is. With several domains hogtied with my settings, MS Teams won't allow me to view any desktop shares, presentations or even participant videos. I can hear all audio just fine, I can't see diddly crap. I went to the Teams troubleshooting page and found that I'm expected to whitelist about half a dozen domains that are loaded with third party cookies, trackers and a couple of them even have keystroke and mouse action eavesdropping. The sites claim it's for building better customer rapport(!) They post other training material on SkillSoft and that's another one I have hogtied. SkillSoft won't let me access the material until I whitelist them. I'd really like to participate, but I refuse to allow such intrusions to my privacy and security.
One of the tools I use to check out domains is https://themarkup.org/infoblacklightThey show all sorts of interesting stuff about web sites and what they're doing in the background.
Just to get Teams on browser to run with full access, I'd have to whitelist these domains;
microsoft.com 13 ad trackers, 34 third party cookies & could be monitoring keystrokes. Keylogging is a security risk I will not allow on my computer.
microsoftonline.com So heavily layered or so full of redirects that Blacklight's results can't be returned. I don't trust it for obvious reasons.
teams.skype.com 1 ad tracker & 4 third party cookies
teams.microsoft.com 7 third party cookies through login redirect
sfbassets.com This site cannot be reached by Blacklight or by browser. Why? According to the Whois registry this site does exist, although it can't be accessed. I don't trust it, again, for obvious reasons. What are they hiding that could be worse than ad trackers, cookies and keylogging?? (https://wa-com.com/sfbassets.com)
skypeforbusiness.com 16 ad trackers, 48 third party cookies, could be monitoring keystrokes and communicates with Facebook, LinkedIn and several other sites.
That's a total of at least 30 ad trackers, 96 third party cookies and at least 2 keyloggers plus whatever else they've kept hidden on two inaccessible domains. And then there's SkillSoft ...
I'm really reevaluating my offer to volunteer. Am I going overboard with this?
No
You've taking an amazing amount of precautions
I think that your best call is to configure out separate virtual machine just for MS Teams and with all permissions granted and without any access to your main machine
 

VP9KS

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the great and marvelous Google
Ya just gotta love that reference, eh Wiz(of Oz?). Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!

Welcome to the group, mate. No, I don't think that you are going overboard. Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean that they are not out to get me.

Do you have access to drive caddies? I have my system set up so that I can use a drive, In a caddie, for stuff like that, and install another drive for more security required stuff. And my financial drive, in a caddie of course, lives in my fire safe when not in use!!

Another possibility may be to use a thumb drive mounted operating system for the "training requirements" to be flushed at a later date. Pray tell what did you do before retiring?

Happy Trails:)
Paul
 
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FBClark

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I've thought a few times about a persistent USB, trimmed of most of the things I wouldn't need and use it for times like this.
I was a HVAC service tech until about 12 years ago, then, because my back couldn't handle hauling equipment and tools up and down ladders and stairs, specially for commercial and industrial firms with several floors, I got into a refrigerated food warehouse until I could retire. We're mostly suburban and rural in this area of west-central Pa. countryside, so there aren't many elevators or escalators.
Years back, my wife and I volunteered for a local chapter of a blind association. My wife is blind in one eye and has slightly distorted vision in the other. She was secretary for years, treasurer for several more. I was chair of their Publicity and Awareness committee for close to 10 years. Not being visually impaired myself almost kept me from being a committee chair. Most of the time I was the only member of the committee which made decisions very simple and easy!!
Back in late 06 I talked over rebuilding the website for the state chapter of the blind association with them and started on it, learning HTML, CSS and a bit more and hard-coded it up for them by the end of 07. The delay was because of trouble I had with my XP system during the summer of 07. That was what brought about our switch from Windoze to Linux. MS support told me I needed new hardware, but it was one particular update early in the spring that repeatedly crashed my system. I finally gave up on them and installed Ubuntu. That 'junk' hardware ran great even after I switched to Linux-Mint in 12. I got the website up and running in late 07 on Ubuntu. It was actually easier with Ubuntu than with XP!
Anyway ... the local chapter had between 10 and 14 members with usually 7 being participating members. I set up a couple Dining in the Dark exercises at local restaurants and had some of our local politicians attending.
I took nearly one year and collected a few used computers. One handful from our local electric company office and another handful from the Kiwanis club. I installed Vinux, Linux for the visually impaired on them after they'd been reconditioned by a friend at a computer shop. I sent them all over Pennsylvania. Do you know that the USPS has a program that allows free shipping of material, even computers that are specially prepared for handicapped users? Several of the users were intrigued with the installed OS, but more intrigued with the CDs I sent along. Using live loads of Vinux even deaf-blind users could rescue files and sometimes their MS systems without any help from others, except for setting the BIOS that is. Vinux just didn't catch on though, so that didn't last for more than a year. The Vinux developers also dropped out and Vinux has been discontinued.
The local chapter has just about petered out. There weren't enough members in our area, even when we expanded membership to cover 5 or 6 counties.
I think back to when the US approached Linus Torvald about backdoors in the Linux code. He bluntly told them it would be an exercise in ... um ... fertility to try and hide such code in an opensource product! I follow the actions up to today and I see MS getting all buddy-buddy with Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical. I'm not a betting man, but I'm pretty sure that someone figured out that by inserting Linux into MS, they could con quite a few people into using the new hybrid system with a lot of the benefits of Linux. Those people won't think twice about the existing backdoors in MS now taking advantage of them through the hybrid. All they'll think about is getting the best of both worlds. Fools.
 

wizardfromoz

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Clarkie (you've got to expect that - I am an Aussie, and we will call Dave Davo, Clark Clarkie &c :))

I used Vinux for its lifetime, not because my eyesight was so bad, but because it had some good features (although Orca would drive me nuts).

Its CEO was one Rob Whyte, from Tasmania, our island state, and we used to correspond on occasions.

Sonar was another good one, now also gone.

I am researching Linux visual aids with a view to writing an article for the visually impaired, so you may wish to come on board with that when it comes time.

Cheers and enjoy your Linux

Wizard
 

FBClark

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Clarkie (you've got to expect that - I am an Aussie, and we will call Dave Davo, Clark Clarkie &c :))

I used Vinux for its lifetime, not because my eyesight was so bad, but because it had some good features (although Orca would drive me nuts).

Its CEO was one Rob Whyte, from Tasmania, our island state, and we used to correspond on occasions.

Sonar was another good one, now also gone.

I am researching Linux visual aids with a view to writing an article for the visually impaired, so you may wish to come on board with that when it comes time.
I'm used to Clarkie, got that quite a bit. I'm from solid Scots blood, so it might be because of that!
I haven't heard anything from Rob for ages. He used to be one of my friends on Fakebook. I'll have to check and see if he's still there.
Sonar and another one from South America with ... I think 123 in it's name were runner-ups.
My wife and I are a bit out of touch with visual aids, even here on Linux. I just know that we sit down after a fresh install, set scaling and system fonts up a tad for her, play through the various themes until we hit one she likes and set the background and font colors if we can in some of the common programs she uses. Speaking of that, I've looked around but couldn't find any way to change the background and font colors for Evolution. It's a bit too dark for her. I've gotten to the age where I use a bit of scaling too and play through the themes a bit myself.
Almost forgot that I set up QRedShift and tune gamma and screen brightness both a bit darker with nighttime shift enabled. I'll tell ya, after a day or even an hour behind the screen, that makes a huge difference. I used to use RedShift, but Q is newer and doesn't cause any problems. There was either an extension or an applet that made the screen flicker with the older RedShift.
 

wizardfromoz

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:)Morning Clarkie, from The Land Down Under.

If you want to further take a look at some of the visual aids that are available, you could start a Thread, I would suggest in Linux Audio/Video, and we could take a look at what you have mentioned above, and what could use tweaking/remedial action?

If so, let us know the Distro/s you use, and with which DEs (Desktop Environments).

Cheers

Wiz
 

wizardfromoz

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Glad you're interested, Paul. I have some time up my sleeve this weekend, so I'll start cobbling some stuff together, and start the Thread myself - hope to see you and Clarkie there :)
 

Condobloke

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Is not Puppy Linux eminently suited to this idea of flushing upon shutdown/removal ..?
 

VP9KS

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I'm used to Clarkie, got that quite a bit. I'm from solid Scots blood, so it might be because of that!
I haven't heard anything from Rob for ages. He used to be one of my friends on Fakebook. I'll have to check and see if he's still there.
Sonar and another one from South America with ... I think 123 in it's name were runner-ups.
My wife and I are a bit out of touch with visual aids, even here on Linux. I just know that we sit down after a fresh install, set scaling and system fonts up a tad for her, play through the various themes until we hit one she likes and set the background and font colors if we can in some of the common programs she uses. Speaking of that, I've looked around but couldn't find any way to change the background and font colors for Evolution. It's a bit too dark for her. I've gotten to the age where I use a bit of scaling too and play through the themes a bit myself.
Almost forgot that I set up QRedShift and tune gamma and screen brightness both a bit darker with nighttime shift enabled. I'll tell ya, after a day or even an hour behind the screen, that makes a huge difference. I used to use RedShift, but Q is newer and doesn't cause any problems. There was either an extension or an applet that made the screen flicker with the older RedShift.
Nice avatar, mate!:p
 


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